Live with it, an artists’ house installation is now open at Mura Ma Art Space, Marple. Thirty artists have co-created an imagined home environment to explore the idea of the home as an artistic practice.
“Somewhere between an expanded still life and a stage set-an invitation to participate in an imagined occupancy. A mise-en-scene.” Kirsty Bell, author of Artist’s House.
Facilitated by artists Jane Fairhurst and Nan Collantine, who have handed over the installation process to the artists themselves, Live with it began with a series of unseen performative elements, starting with the activation of the space with sculptures by Kat Button and Jane Fairhurst.
Artists responded through the placing of an artwork and an object within their chosen space in a given time slot of 30 minutes. Viewers can now enter the created space to experience the imagined environment that mimics the ‘artists house’.
A programme of events and activities is investigating home as a place of creative endeavour, observing and discussing the practice of collecting and arranging, and exploring how domestic labour and caring can be reframed as valuable creative capital. Following an artist talk that took place on 6 September, a presentation by Art Historian Sara Riccardi is planned for 27 September (Book Here), together with a 'Lessons in Colour' workshop by Ashley Aspin on 4 October (Book Here) and a Supper club with Claire Woodier, the Market Chef (Book Here) on 14 October. With more to follow. For the very latest Mura Ma events - CLICK HERE
The exhibition is evolving as art and all objects in the space are available to buy and be taken away, as you would in a shop. Sold objects and artworks are replenished on a weekly basis and different artists are invited to place work within the installation.
Jane Fairhurst and Nan Collantine are writing a text in response to the exhibition, following the initial installation. Research into this project references the work of Francis Bacon, the Art Povera movement, Kirsty Bell, Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space, Soetsu Yanagi The Beauty of Everyday Things, artist Sol Calero’s exhibition Casa Encontrada and Shaun McNiff's Trust the Process.
On the theme of the exhibition, Nan Collantine says: “Jane and I wanted to explore ideas around creative and artistic practice in the home and questioning who gets to be the curator. We believe that anyone who creates an environment, however small, be it a shelf, a studio flat, shelter or a house does so with their own artistic, aesthetic, and cultural sensitivities. Reading Shaun McNiff’s book, Trust the Process in the early days of my own practice, helped me tune into this idea that domestic space, arrangements, physical activities around the home, each offers insights into our unique expression as humans.
"Many people’s relationship with home has changed since the pandemic, the online meetings exposing our homes have made people think about how home is a window into our lives.
"Also people are offered a huge range of images in TV programmes, online through YouTube, TikTok and Reels that people have tapped into. Home has become an expression of creativity as people are more confident about how they decorate and furnish their homes. We can all curate now, but confidence to be ourselves and not follow trends is another thing.
"The home is a cosmos, an arrangement of disparate furnishings and objects, a mix of old, new, bold and bright, calm and gentle often using plants to bring the outdoors inside. It is created over time, so time is factored in to this, like an archaeology of objects. Time is embedded into the home.
"Employers that want to tempt people back to the workplace have to work hard to compete with the comfort of the home environment. Who would want to work in a grey soulless office now?
"One of the saddest things is creativity for credit, and so the home is possibly the last place where we can be ourselves, but that is also eroding as more people showcase their lifestyles on social media.
"This exhibition gives me the courage to put something else other than a curtain or blind up at the window and to thing about incorporating 3 dimensional artwork, art that hang from the ceiling for example. Art can enrich our surroundings and we can look to art for ideas on how to do this.
“Collecting objects is associated with building meaning into our lives and the things around us are vessels for memory. The way we display those objects is vital to our creating a world in which we feel safe and sheltered from the outside world and in that becomes an expression of our inner world.
“Rethinking, re-imagining the gallery space as a place not only to experience artworks but to participate in this mise en scene as actors performing their roles. As a modern gallery we want to show people that art offers a multi-dimensional value to life, whether that is art, or a handmade item or even something given to us with all that embedded meaning and memory. It is about creatively constructing our own reality and bring together objects that help us to create that world, express who we are and to act as memory holders.”
On activating the space, Jane Fairhurst says: “It seems a simple act to place my work in an empty space but there is something profound and quite daunting in the act of choosing, as the first actor on the stage setting in motion the scene for what is to follow.
"In activating the space within a freeform concept lays the foundation for an unknown structure and that is exhilarating. Like a seed whose DNA has been scrambled and knows not what it will become but knows that from its germination something new and wonderful will bloom.
"I’m excited to play my part at the start of the construction of a stage setting to which each artist will bring their own flavour and when the viewers arrive to take their part the mise en scene will be complete.”
The Exhibition Manifesto
Freedom - To participate in an exhibition where both artists and curators relinquish control and where the artists are free to make the choice of placement of their artwork and object without an overall design or plan to guide them.
Authorship - Each artist is author of their own work in both the making and the curating.
Motivation - To develop an exhibition where individual artists are invited to take part as installer, witness to and a participant in the development of an ongoing stage set.
Performance - Artists are acknowledged as performers within a scene whose individual participation is both collaborative and vital to the whole setting.
Vision - The activated environment within the gallery space offers a fresh vision of art and how to Live With It.
Mura Ma is a new independent artist-run gallery opened in January 2023, located at 15 Stockport Road, Marple, Stockport SK6 7BD.
The exhibition runs until Saturday 21 October 2023.
Header Image: Kat Button - Nests (@roscoerutter)